A case that could become a capital court-martial is developing in the Air Force. This report from the Air Force Times begins:
Senior Airman Charles Amos Wilson III, a support team member with the 461st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, was already in trouble with local authorities when he was arrested in August, charged with killing his fiancee and her unborn child.
He had been arrested in October 2011 after a fire in his rental home killed Demetrius Hardy, a civilian employee at Robins. Authorities believe Wilson and Hardy, along with Infini Hardy, conspired to set fire to Wilson’s trailer to collect insurance money.
Less than a year later, Wilson was arrested by authorities after a female Air Force technical sergeant said he drove toward her in a pickup truck in a threatening manner, dragged her by the hair, fired a gun from the window of his home at her and told her, “I’m going to make you die today.”
In the second case, the Air Force requested, and was denied, jurisdiction to handle prosecution after Wilson was arrested in July 2012. Georgia authorities placed Wilson in a pretrial diversion program,until he was arrested Aug. 31 as a suspect in the shooting death of 30-year-old Tameda Ferguson, who was 8 ½ months pregnant.
Now the Air Force is handling charges in all three cases.
More details can be found in this local media report that was picked up by Stars and Stripes. The report discusses a recent Article 32 hearing that included discussion of the possibility of a capital referral:
Muldoon is tasked with making a recommendation on whether Wilson should face a court-martial, the charges that he should be tried on at the court-martial and whether the death penalty should be sought. Military defense attorney Maj. Willie Babor alleged Wilson will have “inadequate representation” if the death penalty is sought at court martial. Prosecutors have filed aggravated circumstances calling for the death penalty, including the allegation that Wilson is responsible for three deaths.
On the Military Justice Legislation front, this Associated Press report discusses a recent HASC vote:
In an emotionally charged debate, the House Armed Services Committee rejected a measure that would have stripped the long-standing authority to decide whether to pursue a case, especially those related to sexual assault, and hand the job to seasoned military lawyers. The vote was 34-28.
And Politico has this report about the political environment.
The Huffington Post reports here that “a military lawyer representing the mastermind of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks is resigning from the U.S. Army, which was trying to force him off Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s defense team on the grounds that he needed to attend a graduate course this year.”
Finally, we’ve posted just a couple of links to reports about the Barbera case (see here and here). Sergeant First Class Michael Barbera is accused of premeditated murder in the shooting deaths of two Iraqi boys in 2007. This Reuters report, this Associated Press report, and this LA Times report all discuss the allegations and last month’s Article 32 investigation proceedings. But this report from Stars and Stripes discusses the fact that the killings initially went unreported. It includes discussion of the Report of the Subcommittee on Military Justice in Combat Zones by the Defense Legal Policy Board: Military Justice in cases of U.S. Service members alleged to have caused the death, injury or abuse of non-combatants in Iraq or Afghanistan:
Though the report did not pass judgment on particular cases, the subcommittee reviewed instances of alleged misconduct that caused civilian casualties.
“Evidence exists that service members at the point of contact, or their leaders, have been reluctant to inform the command of reportable incidents,” the subcommittee found. “This reluctance may be attributed to any number of potential factors, including a feeling of justification in connection with the actions taken, fear of career repercussions, loyalty to fellow servicemembers or the unit, or ignorance.”
The report recommends changes in the military justice system’s handling of reporting and adjudicating civilian killings, injuries and abuses.
In this post, the No Man discussed that report when it was commissioned in 2012, and in this post he provided this link to the report itself.